EP1366822B1 - Liquid handling robot for well plates - Google Patents

Liquid handling robot for well plates Download PDF

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Publication number
EP1366822B1
EP1366822B1 EP20030252361 EP03252361A EP1366822B1 EP 1366822 B1 EP1366822 B1 EP 1366822B1 EP 20030252361 EP20030252361 EP 20030252361 EP 03252361 A EP03252361 A EP 03252361A EP 1366822 B1 EP1366822 B1 EP 1366822B1
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EP
European Patent Office
Prior art keywords
liquid handling
head
pipette tips
handling head
apertured plate
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Active
Application number
EP20030252361
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German (de)
French (fr)
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EP1366822A3 (en
EP1366822A2 (en
Inventor
Trevor Ruddock
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Molecular Devices (New Milton) Ltd
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Molecular Devices (New Milton) Ltd
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Publication date
Family has litigation
Priority to US144763 priority Critical
Priority to US10/144,763 priority patent/US7105129B2/en
Application filed by Molecular Devices (New Milton) Ltd filed Critical Molecular Devices (New Milton) Ltd
Publication of EP1366822A2 publication Critical patent/EP1366822A2/en
Publication of EP1366822A3 publication Critical patent/EP1366822A3/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of EP1366822B1 publication Critical patent/EP1366822B1/en
First worldwide family litigation filed litigation Critical https://patents.darts-ip.com/?family=29418539&utm_source=google_patent&utm_medium=platform_link&utm_campaign=public_patent_search&patent=EP1366822(B1) "Global patent litigation dataset” by Darts-ip is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01LCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL LABORATORY APPARATUS FOR GENERAL USE
    • B01L3/00Containers or dishes for laboratory use, e.g. laboratory glassware; Droppers
    • B01L3/02Burettes; Pipettes
    • B01L3/0275Interchangeable or disposable dispensing tips
    • B01L3/0279Interchangeable or disposable dispensing tips co-operating with positive ejection means
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01LCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL LABORATORY APPARATUS FOR GENERAL USE
    • B01L9/00Supporting devices; Holding devices
    • B01L9/54Supports specially adapted for pipettes and burettes
    • B01L9/543Supports specially adapted for pipettes and burettes for disposable pipette tips, e.g. racks or cassettes
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01NINVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
    • G01N35/00Automatic analysis not limited to methods or materials provided for in any single one of groups G01N1/00 - G01N33/00; Handling materials therefor
    • G01N35/0099Automatic analysis not limited to methods or materials provided for in any single one of groups G01N1/00 - G01N33/00; Handling materials therefor comprising robots or similar manipulators
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01NINVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
    • G01N35/00Automatic analysis not limited to methods or materials provided for in any single one of groups G01N1/00 - G01N33/00; Handling materials therefor
    • G01N35/10Devices for transferring samples or any liquids to, in, or from, the analysis apparatus, e.g. suction devices, injection devices
    • G01N35/1081Devices for transferring samples or any liquids to, in, or from, the analysis apparatus, e.g. suction devices, injection devices characterised by the means for relatively moving the transfer device and the containers in an horizontal plane
    • G01N35/109Devices for transferring samples or any liquids to, in, or from, the analysis apparatus, e.g. suction devices, injection devices characterised by the means for relatively moving the transfer device and the containers in an horizontal plane with two horizontal degrees of freedom
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01LCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL LABORATORY APPARATUS FOR GENERAL USE
    • B01L2200/00Solutions for specific problems relating to chemical or physical laboratory apparatus
    • B01L2200/14Process control and prevention of errors
    • B01L2200/143Quality control, feedback systems
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01LCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL LABORATORY APPARATUS FOR GENERAL USE
    • B01L2300/00Additional constructional details
    • B01L2300/02Identification, exchange or storage of information
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01LCHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL LABORATORY APPARATUS FOR GENERAL USE
    • B01L2300/00Additional constructional details
    • B01L2300/08Geometry, shape and general structure
    • B01L2300/0809Geometry, shape and general structure rectangular shaped
    • B01L2300/0829Multi-well plates; Microtitration plates
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01NINVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
    • G01N35/00Automatic analysis not limited to methods or materials provided for in any single one of groups G01N1/00 - G01N33/00; Handling materials therefor
    • G01N2035/00178Special arrangements of analysers
    • G01N2035/00277Special precautions to avoid contamination (e.g. enclosures, glove- boxes, sealed sample carriers, disposal of contaminated material)
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01NINVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
    • G01N35/00Automatic analysis not limited to methods or materials provided for in any single one of groups G01N1/00 - G01N33/00; Handling materials therefor
    • G01N35/10Devices for transferring samples or any liquids to, in, or from, the analysis apparatus, e.g. suction devices, injection devices
    • G01N2035/1027General features of the devices
    • G01N2035/103General features of the devices using disposable tips
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01NINVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
    • G01N35/00Automatic analysis not limited to methods or materials provided for in any single one of groups G01N1/00 - G01N33/00; Handling materials therefor
    • G01N35/10Devices for transferring samples or any liquids to, in, or from, the analysis apparatus, e.g. suction devices, injection devices
    • G01N35/1065Multiple transfer devices
    • G01N2035/1076Multiple transfer devices plurality or independently movable heads
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T436/00Chemistry: analytical and immunological testing
    • Y10T436/11Automated chemical analysis
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T436/00Chemistry: analytical and immunological testing
    • Y10T436/11Automated chemical analysis
    • Y10T436/113332Automated chemical analysis with conveyance of sample along a test line in a container or rack
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T436/00Chemistry: analytical and immunological testing
    • Y10T436/11Automated chemical analysis
    • Y10T436/113332Automated chemical analysis with conveyance of sample along a test line in a container or rack
    • Y10T436/114165Automated chemical analysis with conveyance of sample along a test line in a container or rack with step of insertion or removal from test line

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention relates to liquid handling robots for well plates which are used in biochemistry and microbiology for processing large numbers of samples in parallel. Such robots are known from US 6 116 099 A, for example.
  • Figure 1 is a perspective view of a liquid handling robot according to the prior art. The robot comprises a movable head 10 that is used for liquid handling and also has a mechanical manipulation capability. The head 10 is movable in three orthogonal axes, x, y and z, with respective motor positioners 12, 14 and 16. Head motion is controlled by a computer control system (not shown) via a control unit 15. The head 10 may also incorporates a camera (not shown) used to perform machine vision functions, such as bar code reading of well plates. The head 10 is movable over a main bed 18 of the apparatus on which well plates and other biological sample containers, such as Q-trays, petri dishes and omni-trays, can be arranged, usually within an experimental area 19. A waste chute 20 is incorporated in the main bed 18 and is flanked by stripping arm posts 21, the purpose of which is described below.
  • For mechanical manipulation, the head 10 is provided with pincers 25 which are used to grip pipette tip trays. Using the pincers 25 and the positioners 12, 14 and 16, the head 10 can be used to move pipette tip trays around the apparatus as required. The head 10 is also provided with jaws 26 arranged in the horizontal plane for gripping well plates or other sample plates such as omni-trays Q-trays or petri dishes.
  • Figure 2 is a perspective view of a pipette tip tray 34 loaded with pipette tips 22. The pipette tips 22 are loaded into trays to allow robotic handling. Each tray is a flat piece of stiff material, such as metal or plastic, with an array of through holes in a grid conforming to the desired well plate standard grid, the through holes having a diameter equal to part of the tapered neck portion of the pipette tips 22, so that pipette tips 22 seat in the through holes.
  • For liquid handling, the head is provided with an array of pipette tip receiving cones 24 with the array being conformant to the well plate type being processed, for example a 12 x 8 array for 96-well well plates.
  • Figure 3 shows a single pipette tip cone 24 together with an upper end of a pipette tip 22. Each cone 24 has a central capillary leading to a reservoir formed by a barrel and piston, in which the piston is slidable up and down in the barrel to provide a syringing action. The outer surfaces of the cones 24 are corrugated to assist pipette gripping. The cones are made of resilient material to aid formation of a liquid tight seal between themselves and the pipette tips 22 they are designed to receive.
  • Referring back to Figure 1, arranged on the main bed 18 of the apparatus there can be seen a pipette tip tray anvil 32. The anvil 32 is a plate with an array of through holes in a grid conforming to one of the well plate standard grids, the through holes having a diameter slightly larger than the outer diameter of the widest part of the pipette tips 22.
  • A number of trays 34 loaded with unused pipette tips 22 are held in a shelved storage rack 36, sometimes referred to as a "hotel" in the art, with each tray arranged on one shelf and vertically adjacent shelves spaced far enough apart to avoid the pipette tips fouling each other when they are slid in and out of the shelves. In the schematic drawing, the hotel is illustrated as having three racks, each with three shelves. A greater number of shelves would usually be provided in practice.
  • The action of loading pipette tips 22 onto the liquid handling head 10 is now described. The head 10 is moved over to the pipette tip tray storage rack 3 6 and, using the pincers 25, one of the pipette tip trays 34 is taken out and placed on the anvil 32. The head 10 is then moved so that the array of cones 24 is aligned above the array of pipette tips 22. Using the lead screw motor drive of the z-positioner 16, the head 10 is then driven down so that the (male) cones 24 mate with the (female) upper apertures of the pipette tips 22, the anvil 32 acting as an abutment surface to allow the pipette tips 22 to be pushed onto the cones 24. The head 10 is then raised away from the anvil 3 2 using the z-positioner 16 with each of the cones 24 now loaded with a pipette tip 22 ready for liquid handling.
  • Once the desired pipetting action has been completed, the pipette tips, which are disposable items, can be removed from the head as now described. The head 10 includes a slotted plate (not shown), immediately above the cones 24 with the slots having a width greater than the maximum outer diameter of the cones and less than the maximum outer diameter of the pipette tips 22. The slotted plate is hinged to the main body of the liquid handling head 10. The hinging action allows ejection of pipette tips 22 from the cones 24 on which they are seated. The hinged slotted plate is actuated by a lever acting on the slotted plate being pushed onto the stripping posts 21 as the head 10 is driven down over the waste chute 20. The pipette tips are thus stripped off over the waste chute 20.
  • The anvil-based pipette tip loading process is not always reliable. The loaded pipette tips can on occasion fall off their cones, especially during syringing out of the liquid reservoir. If this happens, the resultant spillage can destroy the integrity of a whole well plate, which may contain valuable reagents and contain samples obtained from several processing steps already performed.
  • US 6,116,099 discloses a means for dispensing fluids and for loading pipette tips, contained within a pipette tip box, onto fluid dispensing cylinders. The pipette tip loading procedure utilises a head apparatus that engages with the pipette tip box so that the pipette tip box and the head apparatus are temporarily connected. Once this connection has been made, an actuator within the head apparatus is utilised to apply the force required for loading the pipette tips onto the fluid dispensing cylinders. The actuator operates against an abutment force that is supplied by a stepper motor which is also contained within the head apparatus. The stepper motor is also utilised to operate the fluid dispensing cylinders.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • According to the invention there is provided an anvil apparatus for a liquid handling robot comprising: an apertured plate for receiving an array of pipette tips; a clamping arrangement for holding down a liquid handling head of the liquid handling robot above the apertured plate; and a drive for forcing the apertured plate and the liquid handling head together by pushing the apertured plate upwards from below while the liquid handling head is held down by the clamping arrangement in order to push pipette tips onto the liquid handling head.
  • The powered anvil of the invention is found to provide enhanced reliability, which is attributed to the fact that a controlled smooth action can be provided for pressing the pipette tips onto the liquid handling head. Moreover, by first clamping the liquid handling head to the anvil, a well defined driving force can be applied with a separate drive so that the driving force can be optimized for the pipette fitting action.
  • This contrasts with the prior art approach of using the head's own vertical motor drive to force the head down onto the pipette tips. The prior art approach is believed to cause difficulties, since the motor drive of the liquid handling head is principally designed as a positioning device, and is not suited to being used effectively as a ram which may even damage the motor drive and compromise its linearity. The vertical positioner's motor is neither designed to be driven against an immovable object, nor to deliver a controlled reproducible ramming force when it is driven against an immovable object. In particular, it is believed that it is important to apply the force exactly in line with the cones, i.e. perpendicular to the anvil plate surface, for reliable pipette tip loading, and this is not ensured by using the head's vertical positioner drive, since its drive axis is laterally offset from cone array, so a slight hinging, bending or skewing effect may be occurring at the instant of tip loading.
  • The drive may comprise a jack arranged to push the apertured plate upwards from below. The jack can be implemented with a pneumatically actuated piston assembly. Many other solutions could also be adopted, for example based on motor drives.
  • The clamping arrangement may comprise movable arms that are actuatable between clamping and free positions to clamp and release the liquid handling head.
  • The array may conveniently conform to a well plate standard spacing, for example for a well plate having 96 wells or 384 wells. In this regard, it is to be understood that the pipette tip array need not be as large as a whole well plate array. For example, the pipette tip array may be a 4 x 6 array, covering a quarter of a 96-well well plate which is made up of an 8 x 12 array of wells.
  • According to the invention there is further provided a liquid handling robot comprising: an anvil apparatus according to the first aspect of the invention; and a liquid handling head having an array of cones for receiving pipette tips shaped to mate with the clamping arrangement of the anvil apparatus.
  • According to the invention there is still further provided a method of fitting pipette tips using an anvil apparatus of a liquid handling robot comprising: receiving an array of pipette tips on an apertured plate; holding down a liquid handling head of the liquid handling robot above the apertured plate with a clamping arrangement; and forcing the apertured plate and the liquid handling head together by pushing the apertured plate upwards from below with a drive while the liquid handling head is held down by the clamping arrangement in order to push pipette tips onto the liquid handling head.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • For a better understanding of the invention and to show how the same may be carried into effect reference is now made by way of example to the accompanying drawings in which:
  • Figure 1 is a perspective view of a liquid handling robot according to the prior art;
  • Figure 2 shows a pipette tip tray loaded with pipette tips;
  • Figure 3 shows a pipette tip cone and upper end of a pipette tip;
  • Figure 4 is a perspective view of a liquid handling robot according to an embodiment of the invention comprising an automated pipette tip tray dispenser, powered anvil, and automated head swapping components;
  • Figure 5 is a perspective view of the powered anvil;
  • Figure 6 is a perspective view of a liquid handling head for pipetting up to 250 ml per pipette;
  • Figure 7 is a perspective view of a pipette tip tray loaded with pipette tips; and
  • Figure 8 is a further perspective view of the liquid handling head from a different perspective than Figure 6 showing the underside of the liquid handling head.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION MACHINE OVERVIEW
  • Figure 4 is a perspective view of a liquid handling robot according to an embodiment of the invention. The robot comprises a movable head 110 that is used for liquid handling and also has a mechanical manipulation capability. The head 110 is movable in three orthogonal axes, x, y and z, with respective motor positioners 112, 114 and 116. Head motion is controlled by a computer control system (not shown). The head 110 may also incorporates a camera (not shown) used to perform machine vision functions, such as bar code reading of well plates. The head 110 is movable over a main bed 118 of the apparatus on which well plates and other biological sample containers, such as Q-trays, petri dishes and omni-trays, can be arranged as well as other items such as vacuum manifolds 102 and shakers 104 for processing well plates. Adjacent to the vacuum manifolds 102 and shakers 104 there is a general processing area 105 where well plates, liquid reservoirs and other containers can be arranged for conducting experiments. The main bed of the apparatus is supported at a convenient height on a table frame 106. A waste chute 120 is incorporated in the main bed 118 and is flanked by stripping arm posts (not visible). Situated on the far side of the main bed 118 there is a well plate storage rack 108 with four shelf stacks arranged side by side. A slidable cover for the well plate storage rack is also illustrated. Well plates can be taken out of the storage rack 108 by the head 110 using gripping jaws (not visible).
  • The robot has a powered pipette tip tray anvil 130 which is described in detail with reference to Figures 5 to 8.
  • POWERED ANVIL
  • Figure 5 is a perspective view of the powered anvil 130. The components of the anvil 130 are arranged on a mounting plate 131 which is bolted to the underside of the main bed of the robot via mounting pillars 144, one of which is shown. The anvil 130 comprises a top plate 135 which is perforated with an array of holes 141 having diameters large enough to loosely receive pipette tips and arranged in a standard well plate grid so as to receive pipette tips loaded into a pipette tip tray. Around the margin of the top plate, three tray clamps 139 are provided. These move apart to a released position when a spigot 140, arranged to one side of the top plate 135 and extending above the plane of the top plate surface, is pushed down. A spring loaded mechanism connects the spigot 140 to the tray clamps 139. In use, a pipette tip tray is loaded into the anvil by owering the liquid handling head, with a tray gripped in its pincers, down onto the top plate 135, where the head itself depresses the spigot 140 opening up the tray clamps 139 for acceptance of the tray. The head is then raised allowing the spigot 140 to rise with it and thus the tray clamps 139 to move back inwards relative to the top plate 135, thereby clamping the tray in place.
  • The top plate 135 is arranged spaced apart above a base plate 134, the two being slidably connected by vertically arranged posts 145, wherein the top plate 135 can be slid up and down the posts 145. Movement of the top plate 135 is driven by a pneumatic piston assembly comprising a cylinder unit 132 and piston 133. The cylinder unit 132 is double acting driven by two compressed air feed lines (not shown) and has two stable positions, extended (as illustrated) and retracted. Actuation of the piston 133 moves an elongate cam 142 along a rail 143. The cam 142 has a ramp (not visible) which engages with the underside of the top plate 135 to push it vertically upwards on the posts 145 when the piston 133 moves over a portion of its travel close to its extended position. Motion of the cam 142 also drives rotation of a pair of flippers 137 which act as clamping arms for a robot head. The flippers 137 are mounted on columns 136 that are rotatably mounted in the mounting plate 131. At their lower ends, the columns 136 are connected to inwardly directed lever arms 138 that are in engagement with a waisted portion of the elongate cam 142. Motion of the elongate cam 142 along a portion of the piston's travel, that is closer to the retracted position than the first-mentioned portion of travel, engages one end of the cam's waisted portion with the lever arms 138 to move the latter, thereby rotating the columns 136 and moving the flippers 137.
  • It will thus be understood that motion of the piston from its retracted position to its extended position initially causes the flippers 137 to move around from an alignment generally parallel to the piston motion direction, to an inwardly pointing alignment as illustrated in Figure 5, and subsequently causes the top plate 135 to be driven upwards. The significance of these movements is be discussed further below.
  • Finally in respect of Figure 5, it is noted that the anvil apparatus 130 is arranged in the robot as illustrated in Figure 4, with the piston assembly 132, 133 and base plate 134 below the level of the main bed surface. As already mentioned, this is achieved by bolting the anvil apparatus to the underside of the main bed of the robot via the mounting pillars 144.
  • Figures 6 and 8 are perspective views from different angles of a liquid handling head 110 for pipetting up to 250 ml per pipette. The head 110 includes clamping slots 148 arranged to receive the flippers 137 when the head is lowered onto the anvil with a loaded pipette tip tray already in the anvil, and when the flippers 137 are then rotated into the position illustrated in Figure 5 by motion of the cam. In use, fitting pipette tips onto the head proceeds as follows.
  • 1. A pipette tip tray loaded with pipette tips is placed onto the anvil top plate 135 in the manner described further above.
  • 2. The head is lowered down onto the anvil top plate 135 with the cones 124 aligned with the pipette tips 122 and loosely fitted therein.
  • 3. The piston assembly 132, 133 is actuated with compressed air to drive the piston 133 from its retracted position to its extended position which first rotates the flippers 137 into the clamping slots 148 to hold down the head, and second jacks the anvil top plate 135 upwards to ram the upper ends of the pipette tips 122 into the 124 cones.
  • Here it will be understood that the clamping action of the flippers 137 serves to provide an abutment preventing upward motion of the head 110 in response to the upward driving force of the top plate 135 imparted by the ramped cam 142. In this way, the pipette tips 122 can be fitted to the cones 124 with a controlled force acting in a controlled direction, which provides for highly reliable liquid tight pipette tip attachment to the cones.
  • The head 110 is provided with an array of pipette tip receiving cones 124, one of which is illustrated in Figure 8. The cones 124 are arranged in an array that is conformant to the well plate type being processed, which in this example is a 12 x 8 array for 96-well well plates. A single pipette tip 122 is also shown in Figure 8 for illustration purposes.
  • Each cone 124 is as illustrated in Figure 3 with a central capillary leading to a reservoir formed by a barrel and piston, in which the piston is slidable up and down in the barrel to provide a syringing action. The reservoirs are located in the interior of the main body 155 of the head 110. The outer surfaces of the cones 124 are corrugated to assist pipette gripping. The cones 124 are made of resilient material to aid formation of a liquid tight seal between themselves and the pipette tips 122.
  • The bottom side of the head 110 has a slotted plate 146 mounted by hinges 153, with the slots 152 being evident in Figure 8. The slot width is greater than the maximum outer diameter of the cones 124, but less than the maximum outer diameter of the pipette tips 122. Pipette tips 122 can be stripped from the cones 124, and thus the head 110, by hinging the slotted plate 146. The slotted plate 146 is actuated by a stripping arm 147 which is mounted on a pivot 154 and has one end that protrudes beyond the side of the main body of the head and another end that is situated above an edge flange of the slotted plate 146. In use, the protruding end of the stripping arm is actuated when the head 110 is moved down over the waste chute 120 and encounters a stripping post, which pivots the stripping arm so that its other end pushes down on the flange of the slotted plate 146 causing hinging of the slotted plate. The pipette tips 22 are thus stripped off over the waste chute 120.
  • Figure 7 is a perspective view of a pipette tip tray 156 loaded with pipette tips 122. (Figure 7 is the same as Figure 2, but is reproduced to illustrate a pipette tip tray juxtaposed with a liquid handling head embodying the invention.) The pipette tips 122 are loaded into trays to allow robotic handling. Each tray is a flat piece of stiff material, such as metal or plastic, with an array of through holes in a grid conforming to the desired well plate standard grid, the through holes having a diameter equal to part of the tapered neck portion of the pipette tips 122, so that pipette tips 122 seat in the through holes.

Claims (12)

  1. An anvil apparatus (130) for a liquid handling robot comprising:
    an apertured plate (135) for receiving an array of pipette tips (122);
    a clamping arrangement (136, 137, 138) for holding down a liquid handling head (110) of the liquid handling robot above the apertured plate; and
    a drive for forcing the apertured plate and the liquid handling head together by pushing the apertured plate upwards from below while the liquid handling head is held down by the clamping arrangement in order to push pipette tips onto the liquid handling head.
  2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the drive comprises a jack arranged to push the apertured plate upwards from below.
  3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the jack comprises a pneumatically actuated piston assembly (132, 133).
  4. The apparatus of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the clamping arrangement comprises movable arms (137) that are actuatable between clamping and free positions to clamp and release the liquid handling head.
  5. The apparatus of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the array conforms to a well plate standard spacing.
  6. A liquid handling robot comprising:
    an anvil apparatus (130) according to any one of the preceding claims; and
    a liquid handling head (110) having an array of cones (124) for receiving pipette tips (122) shaped to mate with the clamping arrangement of the anvil apparatus.
  7. A method of fitting pipette t ips using an anvil apparatus (130) of a liquid handling robot comprising:
    receiving an array of pipette tips (122) on an apertured plate (135);
    holding down a liquid handling head (110) of the liquid handling robot above the apertured plate with a clamping arrangement (136, 137, 138); and
    forcing the apertured plate and the liquid handling head together by pushing the apertured plate upwards from below with a drive while the liquid handling head is held down by the clamping arrangement in order to push pipette tips onto the liquid handling head.
  8. The method of claim 7, wherein the drive comprises a jack which pushes the apertured plate upwards from below.
  9. The method of claim 8, wherein the jack comprises a pneumatically actuated piston assembly (132, 133).
  10. The method of any one of claims 7 to 9, wherein the liquid handling head is held down on the anvil apparatus by moving movable arms (137) of the clamping arrangement into a clamping position.
  11. The method of claim 10, wherein the liquid handling head is released from the anvil apparatus by moving the movable arms into a free position.
  12. The method of any one of claims 7 to 10, wherein the array conforms to a well plate standard spacing.
EP20030252361 2002-05-15 2003-04-14 Liquid handling robot for well plates Active EP1366822B1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US144763 1988-01-19
US10/144,763 US7105129B2 (en) 2002-05-15 2002-05-15 Liquid handling robot for well plates

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
EP05016744A EP1627687B1 (en) 2002-05-15 2003-04-14 Robot for handling biological sample containers.

Related Child Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
EP05016744A Division EP1627687B1 (en) 2002-05-15 2003-04-14 Robot for handling biological sample containers.

Publications (3)

Publication Number Publication Date
EP1366822A2 EP1366822A2 (en) 2003-12-03
EP1366822A3 EP1366822A3 (en) 2004-01-14
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EP20030252361 Active EP1366822B1 (en) 2002-05-15 2003-04-14 Liquid handling robot for well plates
EP05016744A Revoked EP1627687B1 (en) 2002-05-15 2003-04-14 Robot for handling biological sample containers.

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EP (2) EP1366822B1 (en)
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Publication number Publication date
DE60318498T2 (en) 2008-12-11
DE60318498D1 (en) 2008-02-14
US7628960B2 (en) 2009-12-08
DE60301435T2 (en) 2006-06-14
EP1366822A2 (en) 2003-12-03
US7105129B2 (en) 2006-09-12
US20060269447A1 (en) 2006-11-30
US20030215360A1 (en) 2003-11-20
AT303206T (en) 2005-09-15
EP1366822A3 (en) 2004-01-14
EP1627687B1 (en) 2008-01-02
EP1627687A2 (en) 2006-02-22
DE60301435D1 (en) 2005-10-06
EP1627687A3 (en) 2006-08-09

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